Month: June 2012

  • Energy Efficiency Without Trying (and With)

    John Lennon wrote that life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Apparently, the same is true of energy efficiency. Energy savings happen when we’re busy doing other things – Internet-based things specifically.

  • Is Acid Rain a Thing of the Past?

    The story of acid rain from the 1970s is preserved in newspaper headlines, textbooks, and, it turns out, the soils of the northeastern United States. Forty years after humans first began tackling the problem, the impact of acid rain still lingers in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, according to a new study. But the research also shows the first signs of recovery.

  • Africa’s Savannas May Become Forests

    A new study published today in Nature by authors from the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and the Goethe University Frankfurt suggests that large parts of Africa’s savannas may well be forests by 2100. The study suggests that fertilization by atmospheric carbon dioxide is forcing increases in tree cover throughout Africa. A switch from savanna to forest occurs once a critical threshold of CO2 concentration is exceeded, yet each site has its own critical threshold. The implication is that each savanna will switch at different points in time, thereby reducing the risk that a synchronous shock to the earth system will emanate from savannas.

  • New Environmentally Themed Sci-Fi Novel “Sowers of God:The Holes of Mare Frigoris” Explores Dark Future

    What does the future entail when it comes to the environment and the energy crisis? Will we come up with a sustainable method of procuring energy that has no negative repercussions to the Earth or will we continue to use up our resources and be forced to rely on resources outside of our planet? In Glenn K. Graham’s first novel “Sowers of God: The Holes of Mare Frigoris”, Graham imagines the latter. “Sowers of God” takes place in the near future when global warming has wreaked havoc on the Earth. Many of Earth’s resources have been used up. For energy, Earth now relies on moon mines for Helium-3, which is then taken down by space elevator to Earth’s fusion reactors to be processed and used. Not everyone is happy about the mining of the moon. The religious eco-terrorist group Sowers of God, whom the book is named after, believes no world should have dominion over any other planet and are willing to do anything to stop it. While this was the most compelling plot in the book, there are several other story lines going on.

  • Coffee’s Goodness

    Coffee is a brewed beverage with a bitter flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant. It is an accepted wake up call for many and a beverage to relax over and talk. But is coffee good for you? There is intense debate about that matter. Now comes a new study to reveal coffee in moderation may be good. If you drink coffee regularly in moderation, you could reduce your risk of heart failure, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation Heart Failure. Researchers, analyzing previous studies on the link between coffee consumption and heart failure, found that moderate coffee drinking as part of a daily routine may be linked with a significantly lower risk of heart failure. In contrast, indulging excessively may be linked with an increased chance of developing serious heart problems.

  • Lots of Vegetables Found to Prevent Acute Pancreatitis

    Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, the gland behind the stomach which releases digestive enzymes to break down food in the stomach. It also secretes pancreatic juice which aids in absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. It is an essential organ for digestion, and it also produces several important hormones including insulin. However, sometimes, the digestive enzymes released go to work on the pancreas itself. Enough damage to the pancreas can lead to acute pancreatitis, a potentially life threatening condition. A new study published in the journal Gut, has found that diet rich in vegetables may help stave off acute pancreatitis.

  • Beach Wear

    Although the seashore is most commonly associated with the word beach, beaches are found by lakes and alongside large rivers, as well as by the sea or oceans. Beaches are a fine place to hang out to enjoy the surf and the sun. Unfortunately beaches may not be the cleanest places to be due to storm water pollution, sewerage and similar negative environmental effects. America’s beaches saw the third-highest number of closing and advisory days in more than two decades last year, confirming the nation’s seashores continue to suffer from storm water runoff and sewage pollution that can make people sick and harm coastal economies, according to the 22nd annual beach water quality report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

  • Wind Energy Creates a Warming Effect, Study Finds

    Clearly, wind energy is favored to its fossil fuel counterparts in terms of its environmental footprint. Zero greenhouse gas emissions. Zero global warming potential. Zero heat islands. Simply, wind energy seems to be a perfect part of the solution to a climate change problem. At least, this is what we thought. Until recently, when scientists discovered a surprising link between wind farms and rising land surface temperatures. As it turns out, wind farms may stir air in an atmospheric boundary layer a bit too much – enough to produce a noticeable warming effect after the sundown. The study, which was published in Nature Climate Change in April, is one of the first ones to consider interactions between wind turbines and the atmospheric boundary layer near the land surface.

  • The Last Mountain: A Second Look at Coal

    The Last Mountain, a film by Bill Haney, starkly portrays the lives of people living around Coal River Mountain in West Virginia. It opens with a black hawk gliding gracefully above the Appalachian forest canopy. Instrumental folk music plays, setting the stage for a peaceful recounting of country life in the American south. Looming in the background of this idyllic scene, out-of-focus, are signs of what is to come: a dirt road winds its way through the mountain with a small black power line snaking alongside it.

  • Sea Level Rise may continue for Centuries

    Sea levels around the world can be expected to rise by several meters in coming centuries, if global warming carries on, according to new research. The study is the first to give a comprehensive projection for this long perspective, based on observed sea-level rise over the past millennium, as well as on scenarios for future greenhouse-gas emissions. “Sea-level rise is a hard to quantify, yet critical risk of climate change,” says Michiel Schaeffer of Climate Analytics and Wageningen University, lead author of the study. “Due to the long time it takes for the world’s ice and water masses to react to global warming, our emissions today determine sea levels for centuries to come.”